Engaging with customers has become a must for every company. But with so many different ways to go about it, and an abundance of customer engagement tools vying for your attention, engaging customers can sometimes seem a rather overwhelming task.
Being a truly customer-centric company comes from choosing your tools wisely and building an effective customer engagement strategy around them.
To help you cut through the noise, we’ve put together this list with 12 customer engagement tools:
Using social media has become a fundamental part of being a customer – Business2Community found that 63 percent of millennials use social media to keep up to date with brands. But, social media sites allow you to go far beyond simply broadcasting news and advertisements. Customers can get in touch with you – and hear back – providing the opportunity to create two-way conversations.
You can even use social media to build communities and leverage the human desire to share, producing content that people want to comment on and talk about. That way, you can get conversations going between you and your customers, and facilitate discussions among customers themselves as well.
This innovative campaign from Zoom, a competition for users to create their own virtual background, is a prime example of how social media can act as a rich source of user generated content.
LinkedIn is often a favorite for B2B companies, whereas B2C companies tend towards Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It all comes down to what will work best for your business. Taking things a step further, tools such as Hootsuite allow you to manage multiple social media platforms from one centralized location.
Messaging apps may seem outdated to some, but they’re actually a great way to interact with your customers. For example, an Internet Retailers survey showed that 83 percent of SMS messages are opened within 90 seconds. That speed of engagement is hard to ignore. And because most messaging apps are tied to a mobile device, they provide a direct line right into your customer’s pocket.
Of course, there is a whole host of messaging platforms more sophisticated than SMS. For example, platforms such as WhatsApp allow multimedia marketing through images, audio files, and short video clips of your products.
And it’s not all about marketing. These platforms can even be used to provide customer support, enabling support teams to answer questions with rich, contextually relevant messages. In a Facebook study, 53 percent of respondents said they are more likely to buy from a company which provides customer service via chat on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger than one that does not. Well known cosmetics brand Sephora makes use of this approach to help its customers, for example.
Surveys offer you the opportunity to shed light into what your customers think. This is useful on two levels. First, surveying customers creates engagement by showing you listen to and value their opinion. Second, provided you actually act on the information that you gather, customer surveys help you improve customer experience as a whole to make your brand more engaging in the future.
A well-thought-out customer survey strategy not only gives you an idea of how satisfied customers are with your brand, it tells you how they feel about particular touchpoints within their customer journey as well. Did a customer just have a chat with your customer support? Send them a short survey. Completed the onboarding process? Send another survey. Using CSAT surveys like this helps create a granular understanding of which particular areas are working (or not), equipping you with the insights needed to engage customers better.
Netflix, for example, uses surveys to gauge customer satisfaction along a number of different dimensions. It’s all done with the aim of improving its offering for customers.
Using reputable companies such as SurveyMonkey makes the process a lot more manageable, too. They have ready-made software to gather the data you need in the most accurate and efficient way possible so you can avoid the hassle of having to build the whole process from scratch. If you have the budget and the need, you can even try more advanced software, like Delighted, for NPS and other surveys.
Imagine you are a customer walking around a store. You’re confused, you have questions, but there’s no one there to help you. You probably wouldn’t feel very engaged, right?
The problem is, that’s what navigating online can sometimes feel like. And that’s where live chat comes in. With this customer engagement tool in place, you can reach out to customers proactively and simply say ‘how can I help you?’, creating a two-way dialogue where it didn’t exist before. Customers also take comfort in knowing they can always get in touch with you.
Live chat is a massive time saver, too. No more thumb-twiddling for customers while waiting ages to get through to the dreaded contact center and speak to an agent. This kind of immediacy is crucial to maintaining interest and keeping your customers onside.
In this way, top of the range live chat software help empower more customers to ask for what they need. And the impact on engagement is tangible – 52 percent of consumers are more likely to repurchase from a company that offers live chat support.
With live chat you can even personalize your greetings to visitors depending on the page they are visiting. It’s all part of making the process as seamless and relevant as possible for the user.
Picture the all-too common scene where a customer support agent is trying to guide a customer to perform an action on their computer. The dialogue might go something like this:
“Click the button”
“The one in the bottom right hand corner”
“I can’t see it”
And so on and on and on.
Cobrowsing takes away the frustration created by this back-and-forth of trying to explain using only words – allowing problems to be solved much quicker. Using cobrowsing, you can interact with a customer's screen – with their permission – to see what they see.
This creates smoother interactions between you and your customers by adding a visual element – particularly useful when troubleshooting, for example. And with highlighters and other tools to enrich the experience, you can make sure that both you and your customer are on exactly the same page, no matter what the issue.
Product training and onboarding can also be made more interactive and engaging, while problems filling in forms can become a thing of the past. And it works; companies using cobrowsing manage to improve customer satisfaction scores at a higher rate than companies without this technology (5.1% vs. 1.4%).
Combining cobrowsing with live chat and other tools allows you to offer customers an even more seamless, powerful, and engaging experience.
Your website is the hub of your digital presence and therefore absolutely central to your customer experience. Ensuring it’s optimized to provide customers what they need and maximize engagement is fundamental.
Website analytics help you do precisely that – telling you how people are interacting with your site. You can track a whole host of metrics such as time on page, average session duration, bounce rate, and more (e.g. heatmaps) that show what is capturing the visitors’ attention and what isn’t. With this knowledge, you have all the ingredients you need to make positive changes to your website and content.
Google Analytics (as seen above) seems almost ubiquitous these days (helped by having a free offering), so it’s probably the analytics tool you are most likely to be familiar with. Other tools such as Adobe Analytics and Kissmetrics offer a powerful way to increase engagement, too.
In our always-on world, customers want the power to choose when they engage with your business. Chatbots step into the breach when there are no human staff around and ensure the all-important two-way dialogue still takes place. Providing this real time support, and answering up to 80 percent of routine questions, really helps keep customers onboard. Businesses save on customer service costs by speeding up response times, freeing up agents for more challenging work.
Chatbots can engage your customers in a number of ways. Some of the more intelligent chatbots can even act as virtual assistants, offering personalized shopping advice based on preferences. Others keep users entertained through fun conversation. As AI capabilities improve, it’ll soon be difficult for consumers to tell whether they are speaking to a piece of software or a real human.
AI Chatbots are customizable to your needs and are able to learn from the input they receive to become even more capable of engaging customers over time. And if they aren’t best placed to help, they can pass you on to the appropriate agent to make sure customers stay engaged and get their issues solved.
As a business, you wouldn’t dream of releasing a product without testing it first. So, why should your digital content be any different? Fortunately, there is software to help you with A/B tests specifically. You can run experiments, creating two, or even more, versions of a web page that can be compared for performance.
This allows you to choose the content based on what brings the highest engagement with your customers. If you want to try out new functionality or content, companies such as Optimizely help you set up tests and compare the impact of one version versus any others.
Insurance company Humana, for example, was able to increase click through rates 433 percent just by making simple changes to a banner on its site.
There’s no better way to engage customers than by making their experience as personalized as possible. Video chat software offers the closest equivalent to face-to-face communication online. With video, you are able to foster real time human interaction.
Video call technology opens the door to a number of different ways of engaging customers. Options such as virtual tours and product demonstrations help to create unique personalized experiences. And they work too, 57 percent of customers feel more confident in making a purchase after watching a product demo.
With COVID-19 creating a fundamental shift in shopping practices, video has become central to customer engagement strategies, especially for industries, such as furniture, that traditionally rely on the in-store experience.
Despite being old-school, there’s no getting away from it. Email still has a huge role to play in customer engagement. In fact, 62 percent of customers still want to communicate with companies via email for customer service.
Email is also a good way for you to reach out to your customers and becomes a very powerful engagement tool when combined with personalization. Email personalization could range from simply including your customer’s name in the subject line to providing email content based on individual preferences.
Tools such as Mailchimp and HubSpot can help you create the kind of engaging, dynamic email content that makes the user feel like they are really being spoken to on an individual basis. JetBlue used this approach to create a simple but effective personalized “anniversary” email based on nothing more sophisticated than the date.
Encouraging engagement can often be about providing customers ways of helping themselves when needed. In fact, 67 percent of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. Self-service is the very first level of service your customers will go through, and as such, is a vital part of the quest for engagement.
A carefully designed knowledge base acts as an online library where information is collected, organized, and kept easily accessible. It’s designed to provide documents, guides, FAQs, and more, helping customers learn about products and services. Adding feedback functionality, such as the ability to rate the article's helpfulness, is a sure-fire way to increase customer engagement.
Image source (screenshot from Google Images)
You can even integrate knowledge base articles into live chat and have chatbots auto-suggest knowledge base articles based on the questions they get asked.
The head honcho of the customer engagement tools is without doubt the customer engagement platform itself since it rolls many of the tools featured above into one. Bringing the various aspects of customer engagement all under one roof allows you to step up your game to previously unthinkable levels.
A customer engagement platform doesn't just provide a single interface to control all these tools in a silo, they stitch them together so the experience remains seamless to customers no matter how they are interacting with your brand. A conversation they had with your chatbot on Facebook about knowledge base articles could inform their conversation next time they get in contact with a customer support agent on the website through live chat.
This unified customer view helps to get a true understanding of engagement on an individual basis across the entire lifetime of their customer journey. This way, you are able to create the kind of omnichannel personalized engagement modern consumers demand.
Whatever business you are in one thing's for sure: engagement is your ticket to success. The good news is that customer engagement tools are more accessible, more affordable, and easier to implement than they have ever been before. Jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t mean bankrupting yourself or going back to square one – it means only better customer relationships.
So, get yourself tooled up and get out there. It’s time to take the customer engagement world by storm.
Which one of these customer engagement tools does your business use? Let us know in the comments.
Benedict Clark is a psychologist and writer, having previously spent 8 years in the digital marketing industry. With a master's degree in Business and Occupational Psychology from Kingston University, he writes about the interplay between customer experience and psychology for Acquire.